Where has the spring gone?

This spring has flown by. Oddly, we got all the summer weather in winter and spring, and now we are getting all the spring weather in summer. Many things have happened in the past couple months, and I hope to share more about it in the coming weeks.

I presented a poster at the Pennsylvania Wildlife Society Meeting titled, “Barriers to managing for climate change: a case study”. While scientists are increasingly confident in how climate will change in the next century, there is little consensus on how most organisms will respond. In order to effectively manage species, there is some basic information we need to both evaluate species’ vulnerability  to climate change and  to identify aspects of their ecology that can actually be managed for. Much of this basic information is lacking for many species.

The Penn State grad students at  PATWS.

At the conference I presented some preliminary results on a project I am working on as part of SPARCnet . We examined how individual growth of salamanders differed among three populations: high elevation in PA, lower elevation in PA, and MD. We found that the time of year salamanders put on body mass was different among the three populations, and warmer temperatures (with the exception of high elevation PA) reduced growth in the most productive seasons by ~60% in both lower elevation PA and MD populations.

Alongside my poster at the PA TWS conference. It was awarded the best graduate student poster award!

If each population responds differently to climate-related conditions, it makes it difficult to ascribe a one-size-fits-all management plan for the species. It is also challenging to generate climate adaptation management plans when we are only beginning to understand species’ relationships with climate. Wildlife managers are not managing global warming (forestry carbon sinks aside), so the next step is identifying ecological factors (e.g. microrefugia) that managers can actually work with to help species withstand climate change.

I look forward to sharing more of the results in the future.

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